Profiles, Stories

Lorenzo Ruiz: Husband, Father, Chinoy, Catholic Saint

St. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized saint from the Philippines, having been canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987. His feast day is celebrated every September 28. 

However, there are some facts about him that aren’t too well-known. For example, not only is he the first Filipino canonized saint, but he is also the first and only one of Chinese-Filipino origin.

Born in Binondo, Manila in 1600, here are 4 realizations that make Lorenzo Ruiz significant even today:


1) Steadfastness in what is right

Aside from being a canonized saint (someone who, according to a formal and solemn declaration by the Pope, the Church regards as already being in Heaven), Lorenzo Ruiz was a martyr. This is his story:

He was accused one day of killing a Spaniard. To protect his family, he fled to Japan, traveling alongside Dominican priests and a leper. Unfortunately, Tokugawa Japan was known for its persecution of Christians, and so Lorenzo Ruiz was arrested. 

For years he refused to recant his faith even under torture and because of that, he was martyred on September 29, 1637. 

Despite pressure and persecution, Lorenzo Ruiz remained steadfast and though he lost his earthly life, he gained an “unfading crown of glory” in Heaven.

The historical Binondo Church is dedicated to the memory of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Image from CB Bernardo

2) He was an ordinary husband and father

Now that we know his story, it is worth pointing out that what makes Lorenzo Ruiz venerable was that he was an ordinary, simple husband as well as a father of 3. 

He was no priest, no philanthropist, no government official and yet he is highly regarded and highly honored in and outside the Catholic Church. His story shows that goodness can indeed come from anywhere and from anyone, no matter how seemingly small in society. 


3) Care, compassion, and openness towards overseas workers

Lorenzo Ruiz would’ve never left the Philippines if it weren’t for a noble reason, but upon welcome to Japan, he faced difficulties and coldness instead of comfort. Lorenzo Ruiz has since become the patron saint of migrant workers and Overseas Filipino Workers. 

His life seems to be a reminder that we are called to show compassion towards overseas workers. Yes, they must abide by their hosting country’s laws, that’s for sure, but it never hurts to show them love. 


4) He was multi-talented and he knew the languages associated with his background. 

As mentioned, Lorenzo Ruiz was of Chinese-Filipino origin, having been born to a Chinese father and Filipino mother. Thus, he was able to learn both Chinese and Tagalog. This is according to a website entry by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, which claimed Lorenzo Ruiz knew how to speak Chinese. In addition, Lorenzo Ruiz was also known for his penmanship skills and earned the title of calligrapher. 

The importance of this: again, great people can indeed come from the seemingly ordinary and everyday people we meet. Besides that, being both skilled in language and writing, Lorenzo Ruiz was able to communicate with and relate to many more people, thus allowing him to connect and advance his faith. 


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

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